When we adopted Blakely, our second beautiful Irish setter (the first one having recently died), he was fifteen months old, lively and gangly and bright. What we didn’t know until we got home with him was that he was full of fear. Blakely was afraid of white men, big sticks, any loud noise, and especially storms. We quickly learned Blakely would run from anything that threatened him, even if it was an innocent mop being shaken. Charles made him a nice pen to keep him safe. He dug out from under it. We set it on a concrete slab. He leaped over the high sides. Finally, we laid down radio wire around our huge yard and we thought that was going to do it.
Storms were his biggest fear and he could detect one long before we saw a dark cloud or heard a rumble of thunder. If Blakely was indoors he hid behind a toilet, under a bed, or in a closet. It was a sure sign a storm was coming when he started rooting for a safe place. He was known to be quite destructive during his panics. He might chew a plastic trash holder to bits, shred a rolled-up sleeping bag, and cause irreparable damage to rugs, window screens, fresh folded laundry and dryer lint hoses.
If we were gone when a storm came and Blakely was outside he would leap over the high sides of his pen and run. That was the way Blakely faced his fears. He ran. We found him several miles from home sometimes, sometimes in a neighbor’s dark shed. Even though he normally would stop short of that radio fence whose buzz hurt his ears, when he was afraid, he ran right over it.
Once, after Blakely had been gone about three days and we’d almost lost hope of seeing him again, we heard him barking. Running out, we saw our big red dog standing just beyond his radio fence line pleading for reentry. I went to him and, with my hand on his collar, he stepped across the dreaded buzz. As we fondled and fussed over him we found all four of his feet almost raw from his fearsome run. After a big meal and more petting he settled in his favorite porch corner and looked at me as if to say “I’ll never do that again.” But we both knew he would.
I’ve often thought, when remembering our dear old Blakely, how we are so much like him. We let fears take the joy out of our lives. We lean on our own ability to run or otherwise overcome, then, finally, we return whimpering to our Master to take us back in. And, just as we always welcomed Blakely home, so does our forgiving God open His arms to us.
Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. Psalms 89:33